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A Stranger at Fellsworth
     

A Stranger at Fellsworth

4.3 29
by Sarah E. Ladd
 

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In the fallout of her deceased father’s financial ruin, Annabelle’s prospects are looking bleak. Her fiancé has called off their betrothal, and now she remains at the mercy of her controlling and often cruel brother. Annabelle soon faces the fact that her only hope for a better life is to do the unthinkable and run away to Fellsworth, where her

Overview

In the fallout of her deceased father’s financial ruin, Annabelle’s prospects are looking bleak. Her fiancé has called off their betrothal, and now she remains at the mercy of her controlling and often cruel brother. Annabelle soon faces the fact that her only hope for a better life is to do the unthinkable and run away to Fellsworth, where her estranged uncle serves as the school’s superintendent. Upon arrival, Annabelle learns that she must shed her life of high society and work for her wages for the first time in her life.

Owen Locke is unswerving in his commitments. As a widower and father, he is fiercely protective of his only daughter. As an industrious gamekeeper, he is intent on keeping poachers at bay even though his ambition has always been to purchase land he can call his own. When a chance encounter introduces him to Annabelle Thorley, his steady life is shaken. For the first time since his wife’s death, Owen begins to consider a second chance at love.

As Owen and Annabelle grow closer, ominous forces threaten the peace they thought they’d found. Poachers, mysterious strangers, and murderers converge at Fellsworth, forcing Annabelle and Owen to a test of fortitude and bravery to stop the shadow of the past from ruining their hopes for the future.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
03/13/2017
In the third installment of her Regency-era Treasures of Surrey series, Ladd returns to the Fellsworth School in the English countryside to introduce Annabelle Thorley. Despite her father’s poor business dealings, Annabelle has lived a life of privilege and protection. After the deaths of her parents, Annabelle’s brother, Thomas, is ill prepared to salvage the family fortune and take care of his younger sister. Annabelle’s betrothal to a wealthy older man becomes Thomas’s plan B. After a physical altercation with Thomas, Annabelle flees to the London home of their estranged uncle, the superintendent at Fellsworth School in the outskirts of the city. Widower and single father Owen Locke, a gamekeeper whose daughter attends Fellsworth, has accompanied his employer to visit Thomas in London. After observing Annabelle’s distress at her brother’s behavior, Owen agrees to arrange safe transportation to Fellsworth for Annabelle. However, keeping Annabelle safe soon proves more difficult than anyone anticipated. With betrayals, murders, and criminal activity disrupting the peace at Fellsworth, Ladd fills the pages with as much intrigue as romance. Inspirational references are limited to a few mentions of prayers. A well-crafted story for fans of Regency novels. Agent: Rachelle Gardner, Books & Such Literary Management (May)
4 stars RT Book Reviews
'Once again, Ladd delights readers with a skillfully plotted, suspenseful page-turner. . . Like all superior novelists, Ladd doesn’t default to pat endings, offering even her villains a potential happily-ever-after by putting her faith (not to mention the characters’ and the readers’) in God’s abiding mercy.'
Library Journal
06/01/2017
After the death of their father, life with her cruel and controlling brother Thomas becomes unbearable for Annabelle. Finding refuge at her Uncle Edmund Langsley's estate, she takes a tutoring position. Still grieving his wife's murder, gamekeeper Owen Locke has sworn never to love again—until he meets Annabelle. A sudden rash of poaching, a murder, and Thomas's arrival with a fiancé in tow for Annabelle forestall any future the two may have. As the story unfolds and the well-rounded, likeable protagonists play out their drama, the rising tension keeps readers in suspense. VERDICT Ladd's third Regency outing (after Dawn at Emberwilde and The Curiosity Keeper) can easily stand on its own, but readers who enjoy this book will want to devour the trilogy.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780718011871
Publisher:
Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date:
05/16/2017
Series:
A Treasures of Surrey Novel
Sold by:
THOMAS NELSON
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
14,642
File size:
647 KB

Read an Excerpt

A Stranger at Fellsworth


By Sarah E. Ladd

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2017 Sarah Ladd
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7180-1187-1


CHAPTER 1

Wilhurst House London, England, 1819

Annabelle gasped at the sight that met her eye as she passed the parlor door. Her steps slowed. Her eyes focused.

A strange man, clad in workman's attire of dirty linen trousers and a shabby tan coat, hoisted her mother's teak writing desk.

Annabelle balled her fist at her side. "You there. Stop this instant!" she ordered from the corridor, employing her most authoritative voice.

But the massive man paid her no heed. Once the desk was balanced on his shoulder, he reached for the matching carved chair.

Her shoulder clipped the door's frame when she marched into the bright parlor. "I said stop. Put that down immediately!"

As she drew closer to the man, he turned to face her, annoyance evident in the firm set of his wide jaw. "You say something?"

Heat rose to her cheeks at his irreverent tone. "Yes, I said something. I demand you return those items to where you found them before I call for the magistrate."

The man's low, gritty laugh ignited her anger further. He shifted his weight, and his dirty boots squeaked on the polished floor. "You? And who are you?"

Annabelle jutted her chin up. "I am Miss Annabelle Thorley, and I will not be spoken to in such a manner. Now do as I say and leave my home at once."

"Are you Mrs. Thomas Thorley?" he demanded.

"I am not. I am Mr. Thorley's sister. But that is my mother's desk, so return it to where you found it."

His bushy eyebrow lifted in amusement. He lowered the chair, pulled a piece of paper from his faded waistcoat, extended it out as if reading it, and then crumpled it in his thick fingers before he returned it to his pocket. "My orders come from Mr. Thomas Thorley, and he says this desk, and the rest of the furnishings in this chamber, are all to go to auction."

Without another word he pushed past her, leaving the scent of brandy and filth in his wake.

As the meaning of his words sank in, dread trickled through her. Thomas intended to sell their late mother's belongings. Annabelle had known her brother was in financial distress, but this?

Sensing she was fighting a losing battle, she scurried to a cupboard while the man was out of the room and scooped personal belongings from it. A book of verses. A miniature portrait Mama had painted of Papa. The odiferous man might be a barbarian, but she would not allow him to leave with her mother's letters. Irritation blurred her vision as she clutched the precious mementos to her chest and rushed from the room.

Annabelle marched down Wilhurst House's narrow hall to the back of the home. There was no question in her mind.

Thomas needed to answer for this.

Annabelle found him in his study, as expected, but instead of sitting at his desk, he reclined on the settee beneath the window with his arm over his eyes.

She discarded her treasures on a small side table, stomped toward him, and poked his arm. "Wake up, Tom. Merciful heavens, it is late morning and here you are, sleeping."

He grunted but made no movement. "I don't recall asking for your opinion on how I spend my time."

Annabelle ignored his snide remark and pulled the curtains open, allowing the bright summer sunshine to spill into the chamber. "There is a man in the parlor removing furnishings. He said you instructed him to do so, and I told him there must be some mistake."

Thomas heaved a bothered sigh. "No, no mistake."

Frustrated at his lack of interest, Annabelle poked him again. "Get up and make them stop."

Thomas eased his bloodshot eyes open and pulled himself up from his reclining position. He swung his boots to the polished floor, yawned, then tugged at the snowy-white cravat hanging around his neck. "I can't stop them from taking what belongs to them."

"What belongs to them?" Annabelle shook her head. He was not making sense. "Tom, those are Mama's things."

He held out his hands, as if to display the fact that he was out of options. "It's quite simple. I owe money, but I don't have any money. I am paying them in kind and then they will leave me be."

Annabelle pressed her lips together while choosing her words. Crossing her brother on such a topic would only lead to more arguing. "Wilhurst House is my home too. This is the home our parents shared. Perhaps if you were to include me in some of the decisions, I could —"

"Include you?" He snorted, his pinched face reeking condescension. He jumped to his feet. "Belle, this home, and everything in it, is mine, not yours, as are all the debts, the unprofitable business dealings, and the plethora of problems Father created before he died. So no, Sister, I'll not include you. Not until I somehow manage to work my way out of this monstrosity of a mess."

He was correct. The home and everything associated with it now belonged to him. She had no right to them — not her mama's desk, not the paintings in the hall, not even the trinkets in her bedchamber.

She eyed Thomas as he lifted a glass of amber liquid to his lips and tossed it down his throat. Reprimanding him for indulging at this time of day would do more harm than good, regardless of how wrong they both knew it to be.

After several moments, he filled his lungs with the study's stale air and forced his long fingers through his dark, tousled hair. He fixed his hazel eyes on her with the same intensity that their papa used to, and she braced herself for the hurt that would inevitably follow. "In the future you will remember that these are my issues to solve. Not yours. I do not need, or want, your interference."

The sharply hurled words stung. Annabelle swallowed, her anger shifting to discouragement. She softened her voice. "I am concerned, 'tis all."

He pointed his finger at her. "All you need concern yourself with is the ball at the Baldwins' this night. Cecil Bartrell will be in attendance, and I expect you to encourage him. If you do as you are told, hope might exist for us yet."

Annabelle's stomach clenched. The mere mention of the man's name was enough to send her into a panic.

Cecil Bartrell.

Wealthy, ancient, obnoxious Cecil Bartrell.

She rested her hands on the back of a nearby chair and fiddled with the fringe. "You know how I feel about him."

"Feelings are nothing more than silly feminine whims. He is the only man of worth to show interest in you since Goodacre, and fortunately Bartrell doesn't care about the scandal surrounding our family name. Mark my words: Bartrell is your only — and last — chance to marry. If you rely on your heart and the fickle feelings found there, you will end up worse off than you already are."

How she wished she could speak the words poised on her tongue, ready to lash forward. But she knew better.

Thomas reached for the cotton tailcoat on the back of his chair and punched his arms through the sleeves. "We are having company tonight. I suggest you leave the workers alone to see to their tasks so they can depart by the time our guests arrive."

"Guests?" Annabelle jerked her head up. "This is the first I have heard of guests."

"Friends from south of here — Treadwell and McAlister. They are to attend the ball with us tonight, and they will spend the next few days here."

She recognized the names. They had both been frequent guests. Wilhurst House might be but a shell of its former glory, but at least the bedrooms were still intact, and her brother did most of his entertaining in the billiards room or the library, just as their papa had before him. The guests would likely never even see the parlor and the pitiful lack of furnishings.

But it was still a shame. At one time she would have relished a home full of friends and activity, but recent events had made it necessary to retreat from such entertainment. Besides, now that her brother had married, she was not even the hosting mistress — just the lamentable spinster sister.

"You'd best start preparing for the evening." His words snapped her back to the present. "Wear the green gown."

Annabelle crossed her arms over her chest and pivoted on her heel to leave the study. Several unanswered questions might exist in her life at present, but one thing she knew for certain: she would not be wearing the green gown to the Baldwins' ball.

CHAPTER 2

How I dread this ball tonight." Annabelle squinted in the bright early afternoon sunlight and groaned as she adjusted the red feather on her straw bonnet to keep it from bouncing against her face with each step.

Crosley, Annabelle's lady's maid, shifted the brown package in her arms and lengthened her stride to match her mistress's. "Do not fret, miss. Tomorrow this time it will just be a memory. 'Twill be over soon enough."

"That's just it." Annabelle lifted her lace handkerchief to her nose to avoid the unpleasant, pungent scents as they passed two vagabonds near an alley. "I don't think it will be over anytime soon. Thomas is determined that I should marry Mr. Bartrell, and he'll not soon forget it. I am determined that I should not marry him. You can see the predicament."

"It will work out in the end, I am sure of it."

Crosley's confident tone did little to squelch the escalating apprehension building within Annabelle. "You are always optimistic."

The lady's maid shrugged. "It can always be worse, miss. Always. As long as you remember that, anything is bearable."

Annabelle raised her voice to be heard above the clatter of a passing carriage and horses' hooves. "I suppose you are right. But in the meantime, if I must attend this ball, it would be more tolerable if I had a new gown to wear. Everyone will be there, and I have attended ever so many events in the yellow silk."

Crosley nodded at the package she was carrying. "I'll sew a lace overlay on the bodice, and these new gloves will breathe new life into it. Just wait and see."

Annabelle opened her mouth to respond, but a sudden, sharp tug on her right wrist jerked her entire body. Someone — or something — pulled the silk reticule looped on her gloved wrist, the force of the action nearly wrenching her from her feet.

The ribbon securing the small bag gave way, and her reticule snapped free. A cry escaped her lips, and she whirled her head around to assess the source.

A haggard beggar woman clad in a frayed, dingy gown with wild auburn hair clutched Annabelle's reticule to her chest and turned to run, but the man next to her captured Annabelle's attention. He must have witnessed the act of thievery, for within seconds he had a firm grip on the woman's arm. His much larger size easily prevented her escape.

Annabelle's heart raced as the scene unfolded before her. The woman thrashed and kicked in an attempt to free herself. The man remained steady. Onlookers paused to watch the spectacle, but no one intervened.

The man's broad back was to Annabelle. Their positions shifted, and the man seized the reticule from the woman with his available hand. After several minutes the woman ceased her squirming, and once he could free his hand, he extended the bag to Annabelle. "I believe this belongs to you."

She stared at the reticule in his hand with hesitation, as if it were a snake that might strike. She reached out and accepted it. "Yes, it does. Thank you."

The man casually adjusted the wide-brimmed slouch hat that had nearly fallen from his head in the skirmish. "Shall I call the magistrate?"

Annabelle shifted her attention to the woman who had tried to rob her. A spark of recognition flashed. It burned slowly at first and then flamed.

Annabelle was looking at none other than Miss Henrietta Stillworth.

Clearly Miss Stillworth recognized her too, for tears pooled in her cornflower-blue eyes — lovely eyes that had been the envy of every young woman and the object of desire for every young man not but two years prior.

Shock stole Annabelle's speech. She'd heard rumors that Miss Stillworth had fallen into ruin after her parents died, but was it possible she had been reduced to such disdainful circumstances?

The man's deep words jerked her back to the present. "Would you like me to call the magistrate?"

Annabelle gave her head a little shake, as if doing so would dislodge the confusion settling in her mind. The idea of summoning a constable for a lady of Miss Stillworth's station and upbringing was preposterous. Annabelle cleared her throat. "Um, no ... no. That will not be necessary."

Her heart ached as a tear slipped down the lady's flushed cheek. A million questions balanced on the tip of Annabelle's tongue, ready to spill forth, but another glance at the man, a stranger, silenced her.

"Very well." The man released his hold on Miss Stillworth's arm. "You are free to go."

Miss Stillworth rubbed her arm where her captor's hand had been and turned to leave.

"Wait." Afraid Miss Stillworth might leave before she had a chance to address her, Annabelle stepped closer. She opened her reticule, scooped out all of the coins in her gloved hand, and extended them to the woman, who at one time she had considered a friend. "Take these."

Initially Annabelle thought Miss Stillworth was going to reject the gift. She made no motion. But after several seconds, her chin trembled and fresh moisture filled her eyes. She accepted the coins, took two slow steps backward, whirled around, and disappeared into the swarming crowd.

Annabelle did not look away from Miss Stillworth's retreating form until the tiny woman had been swallowed by the street's business and her bright titian hair was no longer visible.

Annabelle did not understand. How had someone who had been as prominent as Henrietta Stillworth found herself in such a deplorable situation?

She turned her attention to the man who had rescued her reticule. He, too, was staring after Miss Stillworth.

The man had a strong, handsome profile, with a fine, straight nose and square jaw. He was a full head taller than Annabelle, and he carried himself well, yet his fawn buckskin breeches were smeared with dried mud, and it must have been ages since his riding boots last saw the polishing cloth. Despite this lack of refinement, he boasted a commanding figure — just the sort of man who would rescue a lady in distress.

It surprised her that a stranger would rush to her aid. Pickpockets carried blades, or so she had been warned. He could have been stabbed.

She did not realize she was staring until he spoke.

He set dark eyes on her, gave a little chuckle, and shook his head. "I don't think I've ever seen anyone do anything like that before."

Annabelle frowned, a little shocked at the stranger's response. "Are you laughing? I cannot say I find anything amusing about this encounter."

He adjusted his felt hat, and his expression sobered. "I find no amusement in it either. Far from it. I only meant that it was an unusual gesture. You gave the woman the object she attempted to rob you of. Most people would be eager to see an action like that punished."

"She apparently needs the money more than I." Annabelle handed the damaged reticule to Crosley as nonchalantly as if it were nothing more than a handkerchief. "But regardless of the outcome, it was kind of you to intervene."

The directness of his gaze unnerved her. "Think nothing of it."

Determined to fully regain her composure, Annabelle straightened her posture and lifted her chin. "I would gladly compensate you for your trouble, but I gave all of my money to the lady."

The man shook his head. "I require no reward, miss."

"Of course you do. I am certain my brother would be more than happy to repay you for your service."

"Again, it is not necessary. You must be eager to be on your way. I'll take my leave."

He bowed, and now that the fog of confusion had cleared, Annabelle's interest in her rescuer grew. A breeze unsettled his curly black hair, and the sunlight brightened his chestnut eyes.

It was highly improper for her, a lady, to speak with a strange man on the street, regardless of the service he provided. But she had to at least know something about him. "Please, if you would be so kind, to whom do I owe this debt of gratitude?"

"My name is Owen Locke, from Fellsworth in Surrey." The corner of his mouth lifted in a smile. "At your service."

CHAPTER 3

Owen had never witnessed anything like it. He turned to glance at the beautiful lady with the red feather in her bonnet walking in the opposite direction, the skirt of her gown swaying with each step in the muggy dampness. Her somberly clad servant followed close behind.

He shook his head. The lady had fallen victim to a pickpocket, and in a surprising turn of events, she gifted the thief all the coins in her possession. Astonishing.

Perhaps it did not pain the wealthy to part with such a sum, but the action was rare. What was even more curious, the lady had not seemed frightened by the incident. If anything, she seemed to pity the criminal as one would pity a wounded animal or a frightened child.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from A Stranger at Fellsworth by Sarah E. Ladd. Copyright © 2017 Sarah Ladd. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Sarah E. Ladd received the 2011 Genesis Award in historical romance for The Heiress of Winterwood. She is a graduate of Ball State University and has more than ten years of marketing experience. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing family and spunky Golden Retriever. Facebook: SarahLaddAuthor Twitter: @SarahLaddAuthor

 

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A Stranger at Fellsworth 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Loved it! Sarah Ladd did it again.
Anonymous 4 months ago
A Stranger at Fellsworth just may be my favorite book yet from Sarah E. Ladd! I was able to read it in one day but was forced to put it down at Chapter 31 when “real life” got in the way and it was killing me until I could pick it up again. I felt that the story had an excellent balance of dialogue and descriptions. I could really picture the locations but the descriptions weren’t excessive. I loved both Owen Locke and Annabelle Thorley. I liked the Annabelle had a quiet yet strong personality and Owen’s personality, back story and description were so interesting. He also had some of the best quotes, like this one: “I would take the solace of a forest over the hustle of London’s streets any day. Just listen to the silence. If the mind is too cluttered, you will never hear your soul’s whispers.” Certain events at the end were predictable but I feel they did not take away from the story at all.
candicervaldez 1 hours ago
This is an ok read. The story was good, but I felt like it had been done numerous times already. Sometimes I kept getting confused by all the "bad" characters. I enjoyed reading it, but it wasn't a book that I couldn't put down. A pleasant read, and I would recommend it to others. I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
jewelrydiva 3 days ago
Oh my goodness! This was my favorite book in the series!! I was hooked from the first page! This book set in the Regency era had mystery, romance and a loveable hero and heroine. This was a well developed story with a happily ever after ending! I highly recommend this book! *I was given this book by the publisher and was under no obligation to leave a review.
Anonymous 3 days ago
Annabelle is living with her brother and his wife and things are taking a downturn. He wants to marry her to a business associate that she does not like. She decides to runaway and hide from her brother with her Uncle. Will Annabelle be able to adjust to a new life working and living with others? Will her brother find her and make her marry a man she detests? There are a few twists and turns.
jacksonmomLV 8 days ago
I am a big fan of Sarah Ladd, and this book reminds me why. She has a real gift for transporting her readers to "long ago and far away" with her thorough research and fluid prose. (I have been looking for an excuse to use her line, "I detest him on your behalf" all week. Delicious!) As the above-quoted friend also said, "Society...is fickle. We are all just one misstep away from scandal." Heroine Annabelle Thorley finds out this is painfully true. Through no fault of her own, she is forced to flee London and her cruelly controlling brother before he forces her into a marriage to a lecherous and murderous man. For the first time in her privileged life, she has to work for a living, finding safety and (surprisingly) satisfaction at her uncle's private school in Fellsworth. Her closest ally turns out to be anything but. Gamekeeper Owen Locke seems to be continually coming to her aid, though. He is still brooding over his disastrous first marriage - would he risk his heart again? His bravery and tenderness toward his young daughter make this hero an impossible-not-to-root-for good guy as he battles poachers and self-doubt. As always, Ladd's supporting characters are strong. Uncle Edmund is charmingly British, proper and wise and loving. Mrs. Pike is mysterious and stoic, yet a romantic at heart. And Ladd's villains are so easy to despise! Blackguards one and all. This book was hard to put down, and kept my pulse racing more than what was good for me (the typical fight scene at the end especially). I love the way Ladd weaves multiple storylines together into a satisfying whole. As her uncle encouraged Belle, "Have faith. This journey of yours is mapped out already. You just need to seek guidance to find your way through these shadows. All will be well in the end." Pour yourself a cup of hot tea and enjoy this regency romance as his words come true. I received a copy of this book from the publisher via The Fiction Guild, and was not required to post a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.
Heidi_Reads 10 days ago
There's a quality to Sarah Ladd's writing that is restful to me, even with the tumultuous circumstances of her characters. I so easily sink into the story and am immersed in the setting. I loved seeing Annabelle take her future in her own hands and sacrifice her comfortable lifestyle for her freedom and peace. Owen is a hero that grows on you with his quiet strength and I loved his connection to the forest and land. I enjoyed Annabelle's uncle and aunt as stabilizing characters in her new and very different life. There are elements of suspense as Annabelle is in hiding from her brother and Owen is investigating the network of poachers on the land he is responsible for. The pace steadily builds as relationships deepen, secrets are uncovered, and the complex dynamics of the lives of the characters are intertwined. Annabelle and Owen both grow in their faith as they turn to God for comfort and guidance. Highly recommend to fans of historical and Regency romance! (I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)
RobbyeReviewer 11 days ago
Annabelle Thorley is shocked when her brother, Thomas, starts selling off the furnishings in her home. However, that’s not the worst of what he does, and her shock sends her fleeing. Owen Locke is the gamekeeper for Mr. Treadwell, owner of Bancroft Park, in the Fellsworth area. During Treadwell’s visit to the Thorleys, Locke meets Annabelle and sets off an unimaginable chain of events. Sarah Ladd does a very good job of portraying the angst, anguish and anxiety suffered by Annabelle when she finds herself in an untenable position. Miss Ladd describes the time frame, situation and plot in a realistic and intriguing manner. The story draws you in and doesn’t let go, beginning when Annabelle discovers her family’s financial straits and her brother’s treachery. Then she figuratively pulls herself up by her bootstraps and devises ways to better herself and her financial condition. I enjoyed reading about the time period, the disparities in the social classes and the way society, in general, was so different. The imagery is well depicted and enhances the story, richly illustrating the variations in clothing and even the distinctions between living in city and country living. A Stranger at Fellsworth is novel three in the set of Treasures of Surrey. Nevertheless, the story works well as a stand-alone book. I received a copy of A Stranger at Fellsworth from The Fiction Guild. However, I was under no obligation to provide a review.
MJK108 11 days ago
“Every person is on a journey. You. Me. Mr. Thorley. Miss Stillworth. Every single one of us.” …. “Some of us will learn and grow, and some will struggle and fail. I know I certainly could not judge another. All we can do is be there for the ones who have been put into our lives.” -Crosley Suspense, romance and a bit of faith deliver a great story in this latest novel by Sarah E. Ladd. Readers of Regency novels will definitely engage with this story. Intriguing characters, dark plots, and subtle romance tie the story together quite well! Annabelle Thorley, a young gentile woman, finds her life changing drastically as her family goods are carted from their pleasant home and sold by her brother who has inherited the family estate. Bills to settle, debts to be paid, and unsavory friends add to Annabelle’s brother Thomas’s problems. Thomas decides to use Annabelle as a means of getting himself out of debt and out of trouble. Desperation drives Annabelle to seek shelter at Fellsworth School run by her Uncle Edmund, whom she has not seen in ten years. Owen Locke, a groundskeeper from the neighboring estate, steps in and provides safe transportation to Fellsworth for Annabelle and her ladies maid, Crosley. Uncle Edmund is quite willing to provide the two women with jobs and a safe place to live. Thus begins a changed life for Annabelle and Crosley both. One will use the change to her advantage and one will use it unwisely. Once again Sarah Ladd examines in depth the significance of family, morals, and the true meaning of home. Annabelle and Owen have both suffered loss and difficulties. Annabelle’s upbringing left her ill suited to the life with which she winds up, but she makes an effort to adapt and do the best she can with the skills she has. Owen learns that he is capable of a great deal of patience and that his patience and hard work do pay off in the end. Annabelle and Owen learn that home is where you make it and family is sometimes what we choose, not what we are born to. This ARC copy was received from Thomas Nelson and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.
Cynthia181 13 days ago
I received a copy of this book from the Fiction Guild. I was not required to give a favorable review. All thoughts are my own. This is a wonderful story of how a young woman during a time when the men in her life told her who she might marry, made a decision to take her life into her own hands and ran away to her uncle who when she was a child told her that she would always have a place to live. Her father pretty much lost all the family money and ruined their name, her brother wasn't any help with anything he was pretty much selling off everything and then made a bargain with a very bad to marry his sister off to him. She decided with the help of a man she barely met to flee to her uncle but while there someone she thought she could trust was feeding information back to her brother. One person made the move bareable and he is was Mr. Locke and his daughter was a student at the school that she would be teaching at. But with their faith and strength they find their way to make things right and find love.
Anonymous 13 days ago
Suspenseful, clean, historical romance! Engaging characters, both strong and positive like Owen and Annabelle and weak and mean like Bartrell and Samuel. Good story and mystery 3 stars due to high ebook price. Voluntarily read ARC thru Netgalley and publisher, for honest review.
BookReviewerTG 15 days ago
I just love when I've read two books by an author and am surprised when I receive the third book in the mail. Having read The Curiosity Keeper and Dawn at Emberwilde and now A Stranger at Fellsworth all in the Treasures of Surrey "series." In my opinion this is a stand alone read as are the other two books. Annabelle seems to be in quite a pickle. After her father dies and there is no money left, her fiancé calls of their betrothal and now her brother wants to control her every move. So what is a girl to do? Why runaway to a better place, of course. So Annabelle does the unthinkable and runs away to the school where her uncle whom she does not know is the school superintendent. What a wake up call. Annabelle learns that she is no longer a lady of leisure but must actually work for a living. Annabelle meets Owen and his daughter but as their relationship seems to grow there seems to be mysterious strangers and all kinds of trouble. Will these tests and trials pull the couple apart or will they learn to help each other. Another great historical read with romance and adventure by Sarah E. Ladd! *This book was provided for review by The Fiction Guild*
Anonymous 15 days ago
A Stranger at Fellsworth by Sarah Ladd is the third in the author's Treasures of Surrey novels, all Regency novels. You do not have to read the others to enjoy this book. Take one family whose name and fortune has been decimated by scandal, one older brother determined to wed his sister (Annabelle) to a wealthy and obnoxious man, one younger sister who has the courage to flee to an estranged uncle, one handsome and kind gamekeeper (Owen); stir in a murder, poaching, and a budding romance between Annabelle and Owen, and you have the recipe for an interesting story. In the age of social hierarchy and strict social guidelines, Annabelle discovers happiness in unexpected places. There are others story threads woven through out the book that make it an interesting read.
ARS8 30 days ago
A Stranger at Fellsworth by author Sarah E. Ladd was an interesting tale that dug deeper into the nuances of the English countryside in the early 1800’s. This is a story about Annabelle and how she is trying to find a solid foothold in her life and the people, who should be protecting her, like her brother, are the very ones she needs to flee from. There was such an atmosphere of impending danger and entrapment in this novel that had me really sympathizing with Annabelle. Annabelle runs away to the only family she has left, her aunt and uncle who run a school at Fellsworth. She is helped by the mysterious yet noble gamekeeper Owen Locke. Owen, fueled by the tragedy of his past decides to do what he can to help Annabelle in her current circumstances. Owen is also dealing with poachers on the land that he is gamekeeper of and surrounding countryside’s. I found the historical aspect of poaching very interesting and due to this story, poaching has been put in a different context for me. I guess I always looked at it from the peasants’ point of view instead of the owners and thus the gamekeepers’ point of views. So this novel definitely gave me food for thought on that historical subject. I know this novel takes place after the medieval age but poaching still seemed to be a real problem that if caught came with very drastic consequences. Evil fiancés, familial abuse, murder, poaching, and betrayal added with hope and true love all mixed together to make this third novel in the Treasures of Surrey a page turner. I received a copy of this book for free. I was not required to post a positive review and all the views and opinions expressed are my own.
booksandbeverages 3 months ago
3.5 It’s always a pleasure to experience historical England and Sarah E. Ladd continues to claim a spot as one of the top inspirational authors with each new book. Her latest has plenty of mystery, second chances and making courageous decisions. It’s no surprise I’m a fan of strong female leads. What I particularly enjoyed, is that Annabelle grew into that role. She was brave and continued to take steps that weren’t often done then. I also appreciated the character growth of Owen. Each were dealt some hard hands, but they grew from them and were better people because of it. While there were some plot pieces a few readers might pick up early on, I enjoyed seeing it all play out. I find the history intriguing as always (who knew that poaching was such a major issue?) and overall enjoyed the novel. If you enjoyed Ladd’s previous novels, you’ll be sure to enjoy this one. What’s on your summer reading list? Any English novels make the list? (Thank you to BookLook Bloggers and Thomas Nelson for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.) Originally posted at http://booksandbeverages.org/2017/05/23/stranger-fellsworth-sarah-e-ladd-book-review/
Lane_Hill_House 3 months ago
Monday, May 22, 2017 A Stranger at Fellsworth by Sarah E. Ladd, © 2017 A Treasures of Surrey Novel ~ Book 3 Miss Annabelle Thorley sees with the heart. Away from the crowd of demands and sequenced from what could have become her plight, she goes forward, looking beyond what appears. How often do we withhold what we realize a person needs ~ a smile, a nod, an agreeable answer ~ so simple but often withheld unknowingly when we could have provided the very thing that would put a lilt to their walk? In this instance, it wasn't those things, but it was understanding that transpired. You gave the woman the object she attempted to rob you of. --A Stranger at Fellsworth, 15. Already I am indebted to Annabelle for the realization that "but for the Lord, there go I." Taking where we are for granted, blessings that are overflowing are capable of easing the need of another. Perhaps, not require, but would ease their load? As Annabelle, her eyes were open to see the personhood. I love this quote: "It does amaze me how you manage to find adventure wherever you go,...." --Ibid., 20. Owen Locke, the gamekeeper at Bancroft Park ~ Fellsworth in Surrey, heeds closer observation as to his awareness too! Wilhurst House, London Annabelle's brother, Thomas, is expecting a house guest, Mr. Stephen Treadwell. Unaware this was the destination as well of Owen Locke, Annabelle is surprised they meet again. Fortunate, indeed, that they had made each other's acquaintance prior to his arrival at Wilhurst House. The moment her foot touched the carriage step, she traded the life she knew for another one yet unknown. --Ibid., 75. Annabelle leaves London, arriving at her aunt and uncle's home in Fellsworth. As superintendent of the Fellsworth School, Annabelle is offered housing and a position at the school. Upon Owen's arrival back at Bancroft Park, he has occasion to meet Annabelle again. His daughter attends the school as a boarder. As a widower, Owen is appreciative of the direction and care his young daughter receives that he feels unqualified to provide for her. As Annabelle is asked to instruct Hannah in extra reading, she also introduces her to painting. They develop a trust in one another. The story has twists and turns unexpectedly, matched by determination and earnest devotions to overcome adversity. It is uncertain whom can be trusted. I would like to see Miss Henrietta Stillworth freed from her circumstances to be given the opportunity she is worthy of. To be reclaimed and loved for the true person she is. ***Thank you, BookLook Bloggers for inviting me to be a part of the tour for this third novel in the Treasures of Surrey series by Sarah E. Ladd. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***
Heart2Heart 3 months ago
I love it when you find an absolutely charming and heart-warming series of novels that you can follow from beginning to end. A Treasure of Surrey series from Sarah E. Ladd is perfect of fans of Christian Historical Romance genres and in A Stranger at Fellsworth is the third book in series. Annabelle Thorley is at the end of her rope when she learns that her brother Thomas intends to marry her off to Mr. Bartwell in order to pay off his debts and keep the estate at which she has been living from being sold out from underneath them. In a world where women retain little and have no rights to inheritances, her only hope is to marry into a suitable family, but she isn't the slightest bit interested in Mr. Bartwell. Her brother will do whatever it takes to ensure the marriage takes place. With no other suitable options remaining Annabelle decides that leaving is the best option. She meets Owen Locke, a gamekeeper in town when her reticule is almost stolen on the streets by a former friend who has fallen on hard times herself and in the situation, Annabelle sees a mirror image of what will happen to her if she doesn't leave home or even worse if she doesn't marry Mr. Bartwell. She makes arrangements with Owen to secure her safe coach passage to her Aunt and Uncle's home at Fellsworth, Owen's employer and puts all her hope that they will allow her to stay despite spending only a fair amount of her childhood with them. She makes a deal with her lady's maid to accompany her to Fellsworth and once there, she can start a new life for herself as well since she won't have the funds to continue to keep her. Owen wasn't hoping to catch Annabelle in his sights when he arrived in town, but if he can make restitution through assisting her to Fellsworth and away from her brother and Mr. Bartwell, perhaps he can feel better about his own failed efforts to save his wife from being murdered. He doesn't want the same outcome for her and even goes to great lengths to ensure her safety without compromising her reputation. Her Aunt and Uncle are thrilled to have her move home, but it won't be anything close to her former life. While remaining on the Fellsworth property, she will live in the school quarters and take a job as a Junior teacher for the students that they support. Is this life worth living home for or is there something more in her future? I received A Stranger at Fellsworth by Sarah E. Ladd compliments of TLC Book Tours and Thomas Nelson Publishers. I love this conclusion to the Treasures of Surrey because each of the novels can stand alone. I love the strength and courage it took Annabelle to walk away from her life of comfort without knowing what her future held. In a time in history where women had few rights, it took fortitude to put her faith on the line and hope that her former family ties might just be the future she needed. The romance between Owen and Annabelle is wonderful because it happens slowly over the time they spend with one another and the relationship Annebelle builds with Hannah, his daughter teaching her to paint. I easily give this novel a 5 out of 5 stars.
CarolJo 3 months ago
I enjoyed this Regency romance. I especially liked the strong male protagonist. The leading female character was a little difficult to believe but that was a much different culture than today. The book kept my attention and I would recommend A Stranger at Fellsworth to others. I received my advance copy of A Stranger at Fellsworth through NetGalley. This is my honest opinion.
HelenM0 4 months ago
“Things happen in life we cannot understand. We can only do our best and seek God's guidance and move forward the best we are able.” A Stranger at Fellsworth, by Sarah E. Ladd, is book three in A Treasures of Surrey series. Annabelle Thorley's parents have died and with the passing of her father, rumors of his financial status cause her fiance to break off the engagement. She is left living with her brother and sister-in-law in London. Her brother keeps reminding her of the situation and has told her she must marry a man she does not want to. One night after a party, the man she is suppose to marry treats her badly. When she gets away from him, her brother also treats her badly. When she gets to her room she decides her only option is to run away. She has an uncle she has only seen once and decides to go to him for help. She convinces her lady's maid to run off with her. Earlier in the day Annabelle met Owen Locke, the gamekeeper and assistant to the owner of Bancroft Park. He is staying at her brothers home to assist his employer on the trip. Annabelle asks him to help her get to Fellsworth. Owen is from Fellsworth and friends with her uncle and helps her get to him. Annabelle's uncle assigns her to be a junior teacher at the school he runs. Annabelle has not worked before and finds teaching a challenge. One of her students is Owen's daughter, Hannah. Hannah does not like it at school. One day after some girls are mean to her, Hannah tries to go home. She steps in a trap and gets hurt. Everyone at the school is looking for her and Annabelle takes a trail Hannah told her about, finds her and takes her home. This is a very heart warming story. The author does a great job of introducing the characters and providing details of the story. I was able to envision the homes and school as well as the rough terrain and woods. And I could just feel the brown silk of Owen's late wife's gown. Based in England in the early 1800's, the story shows us how the different classes of people lived. The wealthy were tutored while the poor sent their children away to a school and seldom saw them, to allow them a chance to get an education and learn a trade. Even though this is Christian Fiction, it does not stand out and is not preachy. One of the parts of the story that stands out for me is that as a young girl, Annabelle went to church with her mother. With her mother's passing the family no longer attended church. Now Annabelle does not have peace like Owen and questions her faith. Being book three in the series, it is also a stand alone novel. I have not read the first two and was able to totally enjoy this book. I especially like that the story was fast moving with suspense written into the story. I would not consider this a romance novel, but there is just a touch of romance in the story as well. I feel anyone who enjoys reading historical stories based in England will truly enjoy this story. I received a copy of this book from Book Look Bloggers and I have chosen to write this honest review.
Utemom5 4 months ago
A new favourite from Sarah Ladd! I loved to recommend Sarah's series 'Whisphers on the Moors'. In fact everyone that came into the book store looking for a historical fiction, I placed one of those books into their hands. She was a little known author to our customers, but there is something about Sarah's writing that draws you deep into the period, the story. However, I have felt a little disconnected to the more recent books by Sarah Ladd, and I have missed the ability her earlier work had to pull me in to a well developed plot. If you ever could literally feel like a fly on the wall, this is it. You feel like you are right there, living, breathing with the early 1800s going on its daily life around you. That's what I love about this book. I was there in London, while Annabelle was receiving the shut down by the society that had been her friends. I was there as she fled in fear for her future. I was there as she looked about in resigned acknowledgement of her new attic room that she was to share with 3 other servants of Fellsworth School. Life would never be the same for Annabelle Thorley. Attempting to escape and hide from her brother and his attempts to marry her to Mr Bartrell, she comes to accept that her new life may not be what she had dreamed and hoped for. She is free, and with that she starts to reconnect with the memories her mother left behind - of that of her faith. Remembering her mothers prayers, she steps into an unfamiliar path of hope. With her reuniting with her Uncle & Aunt there is the chance to feel what family should represent. Of course, the new acquaintance of Mr Owen Locke, gamekeeper at the nearby Bancroft Park - develops at a natural pace. Owen has suffered a loss of his own, and knows only too well the cost of scandal that can come to a person. Unhurried and well descriptive, I enjoyed every page of this book. The minor characters are such a compliment to those who feature more widely, and there was nothing predictable in the plot. I was touched by this line, a discussion between Annabelle & Owen. (Paraphrased) 'Peace is not determined by your circumstances... Peace is dependent upon where you place your faith.' I truly believe that no matter how we long for our environment or situation to be 'just right' it's false thinking that those things will bring you a measure of true peace in life. Where we place our faith, that is what will carry us through life. Through the darkness as well as the light. Thank you to Thomas Nelson & Netgalley for the complimentary copy. This is my honest review.
KrisAnderson_TAR 4 months ago
A Stranger at Fellsworth by Sarah E. Ladd is the third book in A Treasures of Surrey series. It is 1819 at Wilhurst House in London, England. Annabelle Thorley lives with her brother, Thomas Thorley and his wife, Eleanor since the death of their parents. Annabelle was engaged to Samuel Goodacre until rumors about her father and embezzlement started circulating. Annabelle is out with her maid, Margaret Crosley when her reticule is stolen. Owen Locke, a gamekeeper visiting London from Fellsworth, quickly catches the thief and reclaims it. It turns out that Owen and his employer at staying at Wilhurst House during their stay. Annabelle is told by her brother that she is to marry Cecil Bartrell. Bartrell is offensive, and she has no intention of becoming of his wife. To avoid this loveless marriage and her brother’s wrath, Annabelle plots her escape. Annabelle enlists Owen’s help, and Owen, Annabelle and Crosley are soon on their wall to Fellsworth. Annabelle’s uncle runs the Fellsworth School and both ladies are taken in and given jobs. For the first time in her life, Annabelle must earn her own way. There has been a problem with poachers, and Owen is responsible for finding the culprits. Kirtley Meadow, the land he wishes to purchase, is on the line. Owen and Annabelle see each other on occasion and their friendship deepens into love. But Thomas Thorley is not about to let Annabelle go that easily. What will Owen do to protect Annabelle from harm? Who is behind the poachers and can Owen put a stop to their plundering? Owen and Annabelle’s future hangs in the balance. Will they get their happily ever after? A Stranger at Fellsworth is well-written and engaging. The characters are relatable and appealing. I appreciated the author’s descriptions of the clothes (especially the gowns) worn by the characters. The setting sounded beautiful (who wouldn’t love to visit England). It was interesting to read about a boarding school for underprivileged children. I have not encountered that previously in Regency books. The mystery was pleasing (slightly complex), and I liked how all the elements came together in the end. I am glad that the author included it in the book so it was more than a romance novel. The Christian element is light and blends in beautifully with the story. The romance between Annabelle and Owen is sweet and gentle (subdued). The ending will make you smile. I give A Stranger at Fellsworth 4 out of 5 stars. While this is the third book in the series, it is a stand-alone novel. You do not need to read the previous two books, but, after reading A Stranger at Fellsworth, you will want to read them.
VJones 4 months ago
“She’d grown comfortable in her bubble of isolation, and she felt unsure of how to handle the constant presence of other people. She had thought the lack of luxury would be the hardest part of the transition, but that assumption was far from the truth. A Stranger at Fellsworth engaged my attention from the first page and kept it through the entire story. It was well written and the storyline moved at a decent pace. This was the first book I have read by Sarah Ladd. But it won’t be the last. A Stranger at Fellsworth caused me to anxiously seek out any other books written by this author. It was a very entertaining book. I had a hard time putting the book down. Annabelle’s father put the family into financial ruin before he died. Her brother was unable to recover the family wealth and now wanted to force Annabelle into a beneficial marriage. But the fiancé to be gave appearances of being just as cruel as her brother. So Annabelle made the choice to run away , fleeing to the home of her long- estranged home uncle and aunt. But their lifestyle was much simpler and not one which Annabelle was accustomed. A Stranger at Fellsworth is fascinating when following Annabelle’s transition out of a life of wealth. Is she up to the challenge or will she seek a way to slip back to a lifestyle she was groomed for? Could she adapt to being independent with no one to serve her? And did she ever miss the leisurely life she had left behind? All of these questions are addressed in this story. Another interesting storyline to follow is what happens when servant and master all of a sudden become equals. Annabelle considered her servant a loyal friend. But now both ladies share a bedroom and Annabelle for the first time in her life is forced to work. This is the first book I have read that really approached this topic of relationship between servant and master. It was fascinating to watch the dynamics of the relationship change. I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I found it to be a great read and highly recommend this book to all who enjoy intrigue with romance.
Becky6 4 months ago
Wow! Where do I even begin?! A Stranger at Fellsworth is a new favorite of Sarah Ladd’s novel. If you enjoy Jane Austen or anything to do with the regency era, then this is not one to miss. Beautifully written, Ladd takes on a story of a woman who is struggling to figure out who she is meant to be and belong. Of course, the twists and turns of a bit of mystery make this regency romance even more fun! No worries if you haven’t read the previous novels in the series. This can easily be a stand-alone. Those who have read all of the novels prior, will enjoy returning to the scenery of Fellsworth. The characters are memorable and relatable, although their situations are far-fetched and something I cannot relate to at all. Annabelle is a unique character who is selfless, always trying to help someone who is in need. She is neither a weak or exaggerated strong character. She’s well balanced out which is one of the things I love about her. She struggles with fear and trust which were probably two of the biggest themes in the novel. Despite the fear, she’s a strong woman for how she perseveres through the crazy circumstances that are thrown at her. And then there’s the amazing, handsome, and swoon-worthy, Owen Locke. One of these days I am going to have to make a post about some of my favorite swoon-worthy characters because this guy definitely makes that list. He isn’t your typical guy you come across in historical fiction. Locke is a gamekeeper, a widower, and a father of sweet little Hannah. He’s more on the rougher side, but he is kind, respectful, and a true gentleman. He loves and cares about his daughter and will do anything he can do provide her the things she needs. Oh and it helps that he loves Jesus. -swoon- Ladd’s descriptions are amazing. I felt as if I were there physically in the novel observing the scenery, the conversations, the mystery, the romance, basically everything! It was as if I could see, touch, smell, taste it. I also really enjoyed the faith element that Ladd brings into the story. The biggest themes would be that despite what life throws at us and no matter how much others will hurt and betray us, God is still God. God will never change and forsake us. We have hope that things will eventually get better even when life’s circumstances don’t seem like it ever will. That was my takeaway at least. Overall, I really enjoyed this latest installment. Be prepared to just sit back, relax, and read because the pages will be flying like there’s no tomorrow. Highly recommended for all of those who love the regency era. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
eLynda 4 months ago
Regency is my absolute favorite period and setting, but it is no secret that it is perhaps not as genteel as we may like to think when we romanticize it. This novel illustrates that well: forced to flee into the unknown by terrible circumstances, Annabelle escapes to a new life very different from the one she left. All the rules seem to have changed with her new station and as she navigates this unfamiliar territory she discovers that much she thought knew in the past was mere illusion. The tension between manners and the realities of life is pulled almost to the breaking point in Ladd's latest work. The genteel upper classes and the thin line women are forced to walk is shown as a drastic and unforgiving taskmaster; I am even a bit shocked to discover that I don't think I'd want to live there. To know that a simple mistake, or a rumor of one, could end in ruin, in my being a pickpocket just to survive, simply because I didn't have male protection, is unfathomable to me. Or worse yet, to be at the mercy of a man who should be my protector, but who instead sees me as a means to his own happy ending without considering my wishes or welfare. The author's skill is incredible; she obviously knows the period well and has done her homework—lots of it—but she never beats the reader over the head with a textbook. I studied Austen and the Regency in several college courses, have read more since then, but I learned a few new things as I enjoyed the tidbits that are well-integrated into the story. I actually put the book down and went to look something up that I had never before heard of, and that one small detail opened my eyes and gave me mental images I had not had previously. I love when fiction comes alive for me, and this book does. The descriptions of people and the setting are so vivid I found myself physically recoiling from the page in disgust as if I could distance Annabelle from the grotesque man her brother wanted her to accept. I could see and hear and even smell him and it was not a pleasant experience! Likewise, the fresh country air, the school grounds, and the characters at Fellsworth came alive as I immersed myself in this novel. This is a fantastic story of finding out who you are made to be and what you are made to do. Part of that is a strong commentary on both Regency society and our own, that no one should tell you who you must be, how you must look, who you must marry. My daughters are still a bit young for this novel, but already are feeling the pressures of peers and people in society to look or behave a certain way. This will be one book I place in their hands as entertainment, but pray a deeper message takes root, that they are who God designed them to be and He is the one to direct their paths. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is an outstanding story with deep implications, but the storytelling never suffers from trying to convey a message; instead, it flows naturally from the plot and realistic characters who captured my heart from the first chapters. Historical fans who enjoy romance and a bit of suspense will not be disappointed. While Ladd's work has long been on my keeper shelf, with this book she is now one whose books I will buy simply because her name is on the cover—whatever she writes always seems to exceed any expectations I may have had before I began reading. I received a free copy from the publisher but was not required to write a positive review. The opinions are my own.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Wilhurst House - London 1819 Annabelle Thorley, is shocked to find her late mother’s furnishings are being removed from her home to be sold at auction. Her brother, Thomas Thorley, has inherited the home but is having financial problems due to embezzling accusations against his late father. Angry at Thomas for selling these items, he reminds Annabelle that she owns nothing and it is up to him to make the decisions. Thomas wants her to attend a ball that night and hopefully attract Cecil Bartrell, an old and irritating widower with three daughters. He also informs her that he is expecting two men as guests for a few days. At one time, Annabelle was to marry Mr. Samuel Goodacre, but when the scandal erupted about her father, he broke their engagement. As Annabelle and her maid, Crosley, are shopping for some items to update Annabelle’s old gown, her reticle is grabbed by a woman. Annabelle recognizes her as Miss Henrietta Stillworth whose parents died leaving her penniless. The woman is stopped by a gentleman, but Annabelle doesn’t want to see the woman prosecuted. Instead, she gives her some money to help her. Thanking the man who rescued her, she learns he is Owen Locke from Fellsworth in Surrey. Owen is the gamekeeper for Mr. Stephen Treadwell and the two men have been friends since they were boys. As it turns out, Owen and Stephen are the men who are to be the guests of Thomas. At the ball, Mr. Bartrell is drunk and treats Annabelle disrespectfully. He grabs her wrist and tells her she will be his wife. When Annabelle rebuffs the man, her brother becomes angry and ends up slapping her. She now knows that she has no other recourse but to flee to her Uncle Edmund Langsby, the superintendent at Fellsworth School. With the help of Owen, Annabelle and Crosley travel to Fellsworth. Her uncle welcomes her but says she will be employed as a junior teacher at the school and Crosley will work in the kitchen. Never having taught before, this is new to Annabelle but she is determined to do a good job. As Owen and Annabelle occasionally see one another, they form a friendship. But when some poaching problems arise, Owen discovers there are more sinister things at work here. I have always enjoyed this author’s books but this one became confusing at times so it’s not my favorite of her books. It is not necessary to read the other two books in this trilogy as they are each stand-along novels. Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.